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USK and Byzantium education in the 21st century

A good quality education is worth its weight in gold. In the USA, due to growing secularism and progressive social-political movements, higher education institutions are no longer the bastions of critical thinking and free thought. There is also diminishing acknowledgment by these institutions of society’s Christian past and its contributions to bettering human civilisation. So, where can an American Orthodox person, or someone who values learning more than social agendas, find an all-rounded education? Answer: University of Saint Katherine’s.

Based in sunny San Diego, California, USK is North America’s only Orthodox-focussed university. Established 10 years ago, founder Dr. Frank Papatheofanis wanted to offer an educational experience which has now become a rarity. With over 35 years of experience at medical schools and university higher education as a faculty member and administrator, Dr. Frank was disheartened by many institutions’ diminishing emphasis of critical thinking. As an Orthodox Christian, Dr. Frank also wanted to give America its first and only Orthodox university.

USK exists to provide a balanced education in the liberal arts and sciences, which is founded and rooted in the life of the Orthodox Christian Tradition: Inquiry Seeking Wisdom. Dr. Frank stated, “our curriculum and campus are devoted to the formation of the whole person: the spiritual, physical, and intellectual dimensions…We honor the teachings of Jesus Christ and Orthodox Tradition and understand that seeking wisdom is an effort to learn about Holy Wisdom.”

USK is focussed on providing a classical education which thoroughly examines and debates all ideas. Orthodox speakers from around the world offer Forum lectures regularly to broaden students' perspectives about their faith and how to apply it. USK is an institution for Orthodox students who want to continue to grow in their faith while exploring and learning critical skills.

Over 25 undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in the arts and humanities, business management, kinesiology, and natural sciences. Pre-professional studies are also offered, as well as early acceptance guarantee programs for medical school and other health fields plus teaching and credentialing programs.

Graduates have gone on to graduate school, medical school, law school, pharmacy school, dental school, physician assistant school, and a host of other opportunities. Others have started their own businesses or are employed in their chosen field. Facility members are expected to give their students the personal attention they need in order to be fully prepared for their future.

As for most young undergraduates, a vibrant social life is an important part of the university experience. USK’s location offers something for every student: just 15-minutes from the Pacific, an hour from the mountains and 90 minutes from the bright lights of Los Angeles. San Diego hosts numerous cultural activities and student-led outings are a regular occurrence. There is also a variety of student clubs that help bring students together with specific interests. USK also has a very active intercollegiate sports program in men's and women's athletics.

Byzanfest is proud to have USK as a Major Partner for 2021. As the only international Orthodox Christian film festival that streams, USK’s invaluable sponsorship helps to encourage the recognition of Orthodox cinema and raise awareness of Orthodoxy creative arts and its creators. USK is an institution that takes the arts very seriously. Their literary journal, “The Saint Katherine Review” (, has been publishing creative works for a decade. Among its many business and science offerings, USK also provides courses on art and music. Another example of USK’s commitment to the arts is its hosting of the National Christian Book Festival which will showcase illustrators and creative writers.

In just over a decade, USK has become a quality, student-focussed institution – so, now what for the future? “We plan to continue to grow the university by offering high-quality programs, as well as, add collaborations and cooperative agreements with other institutions throughout the world.” USK has set its sights on gaining greater recognition as a leading learning environment.

If you feel USK offers you the learning opportunities you have been looking for, go to for more details about their course offerings and admissions.

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